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East Indian Food and Recipes

East Indian cuisine has a distinct character that sets it apart from the cuisines of other parts of India. Eastern cuisines include the North East regions of India in the high Himalayan mountains. The Bengal, Oriya, Bihar area has warm climate, mostly adequate rainfall, lush forests, coastal areas with ample seafood make fresh ingredients easy to come by encouraging  this cuisine to be light on spices and allowing the main fresh ingredients to take center stage. The European explorers and the Muslim settlers brought their own culinary styles, resulting in a rich culinary tradition of their own. East Indian confections are famous and owe their roots to Hindu culture. The sweets too of this region tend to be less dense, lighter, making them a bit more appealing to westerners than some of the denser confections of other regions in India.
Mustard seeds and paste, chillies (both green and red), Paanch Phoran (a mix of five spices – white cumin seeds, onion seeds, mustard seeds, fennel seeds and fenugreek seeds). Yoghurt, coconut, maize and gram flour are common ingredients. Milk and dairy products play a huge role in the preparation of sweets in Eastern India.

Indian curry, Indian curries

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East Indian Recipes - West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura, Orrisa.

Eastern Indian cuisine has the Three schools of Cuisine :
Bengali and Assam, NorthEastern States and Oriya.  Here due to the many river tributaries that commence in the mighty Himalayas and pour into the Bay of Bengal both fish and rice are a very important part of an Eastern diet.

Bengali Cuisine - Bengali food is symbolized by rice and fish. It is a coastal cuisine which has the most rains that occur in Monsoon India. The other characteristic of its cuisine is the use of coconut, mustard oil instead of ghee or peanut or coconut oil and its famous panchpuran or combination of five spices of nigella, fennel, cumin, mustard and funugreek. It also has many sweet and sour dishes.

Popular dishes: Tomato Achaar (tomato pickle), Machcher Jhol (fish curry), Jhaal-Muri (a spicy snack made with puffed rice and mustard oil), Sandesh, Rasgolla

Sikkim Cuiisine- has a completely different cuisine as compared to other states of this zone. Cuisine of this state shows apparent influence of food culture of neighbouring countries, especially Tibet. Momos of Sikkim are loved by people all over the country. Momos (steamed, meat- or vegetable-filled wontons) and Thukpa (a clear soup), Momos (steamed, meat- or vegetable-filled wontons) and Thukpa (a clear soup).

Oriya Cuisine - Oriya cuisine refers to the cooking of the eastern Indian state of Orissa. Foods from this area are rich and varied, while relying heavily on local ingredients. The flavors are usually subtle and delicately spiced, quite unlike the fiery curries typically associated with Indian cuisine. Fish and other seafood such as crab and shrimp are very popular. Chicken and mutton are also consumed. Only 6% of the population of Orissa is vegetarian, and this is reflected in its cuisine. Panch phutana, a mix of cumin, mustard, fennel, fenugreek and kalonji (nigella) is widely used for tempering vegetables and dals, while garam masala (curry powder) and haladi (turmeric) are commonly used for non-vegetarian curries. Pakhala, a dish made of rice, water, and yoghurt, that is fermented overnight, is very popular in summer, particularly in the rural areas. Oriyas are very fond of sweets and no Oriya repast is considered complete without some dessert at the end.

Assamese Cuisine
Assamese food is mainly based on rice and fish. For dessert, or for those with a sweet tooth, there is a wide range in "pithas" (cakes).

Rice is the staple diet in Assam and is eaten in various forms throughout the day. The Assamese eat a huge variety of rice-based breakfast cereals with milk, yoghurt or thick cream­akhoi (puffed rice), chira (chura), muri, komal chaul (a specially processed rice which doesn’t require cooking but just an hour’s soak in cold water) and hurum to name but a few. Normally jaggery or sugar is added but for those who prefer savoury items, salt can be added. Also there are the various kinds of pitha that are prepared from rice powder.

Authentic Assamese cuisine is bland and yet very delicious. Very little oil is used and practically no spices. All Assamese people are non-vegetarian. Chicken is taboo in orthodox families and there are some, who may not eat meat. But it’s difficult to find anyone who does not eat fish and duck’s eggs. Mustard oil is used for cooking and occasionally clarified butter or ghee.
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Arunachali Cuisine
Traditional north-east delicacies, Chinese food and local food are available here. Poeple here generally take non-vegetarian diets. Most of their cuisines include non-vegetarian meals. Apong (local drinks made from rice or millet) is also take by the people here.

Manipuri Cuisine
The traditional Manipuri fine dining was a literally 'sit-down' affair with banana-leaf plates. Their love for rice can be seen in every household here. Some take rice with meat, and some others prefer a fish delicacy along with the main dish. In fact Kabok, a traditional speciality, is mostly fried rice with a world of vegetables added in. The Iromba, an eclectic combination of fish, vegetables and bamboo shoots is served fermented.

Meghalayan Cuisine
The Meghalayan cuisine is heavily tilted in favour of meat, particularly pork. Jadoh - a spicy dish of rice and pork is eaten almost any time. Besides, the local pork delicacies cooked Khasi-style, Shillong is also the Mecca of authentic Chinese food. Kyat, the local brew made from rice, adds zing to all the local celebrations. You can taste it at any of the bars spread all over Shillong Meghalaya.

Mizoram Cuisine
The people of Mizoram are basically non-vegetarian and love meat. The food is not spicy and is cooked in such a way that the nutritive value is actually retained. The locally made wine is a great favourite. "Zu" (tea) is a popular drink. Both men and women are fond of smoking.

Tripuri Cuisine
The large Bengali community in Tripura makes for a non-vegetarian favoured cuisine, with fish being an integral part of the menu. Most of the household here serves authentic Bengali delicacies.

Pakku (Mutton curry) Serves 6
Pakku is a typical mutton curry of this region which is served with cooked rice or Selroti.
Mutton 1 kg
Marinating paste:
Cumin seeds 2 Teaspoon
Dry coriander 2 Teaspoon
Ginger paste 1 Tablespoon
Cloves 6
Garlic 8 flakes
Onion 1 chopped
Small cardamom 6
Cinnamon 1/2 inch
Nutmeg powder 1/2 Tablespoon
Hing (small) 1
Turmeric powder 1 Teaspoon
Salt 2 Teaspoon

Khalo Dal
Serves 4 to 6
Khalo dal is very common dal prepared from black gram (Phaseolus mungo).

Black gram 250 g
Onion 1/2 chopped
Ginger paste 1 Tablespoon
Turmeric powder 1 Teaspoon
Mustard oil 1 Teaspoon
Ghee (butter) 1 Tablespoon
Garlic cloves 4 flakes, sliced
Salt 2 Teaspoon
Preparation : Boil thoroughly cleaned and washed black gram with turmeric powder, ginger paste and 1 teaspoon of mustard oil till it is fully cooked (grams can be crushed easily). Heat ghee, sautéed onion and garlic, combine with cooked dal, add salt and mix well. Khalo dal is ready to serve with Sidra ko achar and cooked rice.

Chhurpi - Ningro (wild edible fern) Curry Serves 6
The people of the Sikkim Himalayas eat many varieties of wild ferns commonly grown in these regions. Some of the common edible ferns are Diplazium polypodiodes locally called "sauney ningro", iplazium spp. "kali ningro", etc. Recipe of wild fern is unique in these regions which is mostly mixed with Chhurpi to taste. Ningro, an alpine fiddle-head fern and its tendrils when sauted with Churpi( form of cheese) makes an irresistible dish. Normally it is not served in the restaurants but is prepared as a household dish.

Chhurpi 250 g
Ningro (wild fern) 12 stems (cut into 1 inch piece)
Onion 1 chopped
Green chilies 3 sliced
Paanch phoran 1/2 Tablespoon
Turmeric powder 1/4 Tablespoon
Salt 1 Teaspoon
Preparation : Heat oil and add Paanch phoran spice (a mixture of spices such as asafetida, dry coriander, cumin seeds, fenugreek, etc.), fry chopped onion till it becomes golden brown, add chilies and turmeric powder. Fry finely cut pieces of Ningro and add a little amount of water, cook for 10 min. Seasoned Chhurpi and simmer briefly for 10-15 min. Curry is ready to serve with cooked rice.

(Buckwheat fritter)
Serves 10
Phulaurah is buckwheat-based fritter eaten as snacks.
Buckwheat powder 250 g
Baking powder 1/2 Tablespoon
Turmeric powder 1/2 Tablespoon
Salt 1 Teaspoon
Fresh onion leaves 6, finely chopped
Preparation : Mix all ingredients with 1 cup of water to make a thick batter. Heat oil and deep fry a tablespoon of the batter at a time until it becomes golden brown. Serves hot with Silam ko achar.

Chambray (fry-cooked rice) Serves 6
Chambray is a typical Nepali type Pulao prepared from local varieties of rice.

Rice 250 g
Cinnamon 1/2 inch
Turmeric powder 1/2 Tablespoon
Salt 1 Teaspoon
Bay leaves (tej-patta) 4
Ghee 2 Tablespoon
Black cumin seed 1
Preparation : Soak rice with bay-leaves and cinnamon for 20 min. Heat ghee in a wok, add all the ingredients, and put soaked rice, fry for 5 min till ghee separates. Pour water slowly and leave it till rice is cooked. Chambray is eaten with Til ko alu.

Til ko Alu (Potato curry with sesame seeds)Serves 6
Til ko alu is a typical Nepali style potato curry mixed with sesame seeds (Sesame indicum) locally called Til.
Potato 250 g
Onion 1 sliced
Green chili 4 sliced
Sesame seeds (Til) 10 g
Salt 1 Teaspoon
Preparation : Cut boiled and peeled potato into small pieces. Fry Til for 10 min and grind to make paste. Heat oil and fry onion, add potato and Til paste, salt and turmeric powder, mix and simmer for 5 min. Serves with Chambray.

Sishnu (Nettle leaves) Soup Serves 6
Sishnu soup is prepared from leaves of edible wild varieties of nettle. Sishnu soup is a typical Himalayan cuisine served with cooked rice. Many wild varieties of nettle are grown in these regions some of which are edible such as Urtica dioica locally called "ghario sishnu", Laportee terminalis "patle sishnu", and Girardinia diversifolia "bhangrey sishnu".
Nettle leaves 20-25 leaves
Rice 50 g
Garlic 4 flakes, sliced
Turmeric powder 1/2 Tablespoon
Salt 1 Teaspoon
Ghee 1 Tablespoon
Preparation : Boil nettle leaves with rice, turmeric powder and salt till it is fully cooked. Heat oil and sautéed garlic flakes, add to cooked thick nettle soup. Sishnu soup is ready to serve with cooked rice.

Non-Alcoholic Beverage

MOHI (Butter-milk)
Mohi is a traditional non-alcoholic buttermilk beverage, which is usually served in vegetarian meals. Mohi is slightly sour-acidic in taste.

DAHI (Curd)
Dahi is fermented milk product, which is thick and non-alcoholic beverage. Average consumption of Dahi in Sikkim is 61 ml/capita/day. In the local vegetarian meal Dahi is served as a side-savory drink.

Alcoholic Beverage
Jaanr/ Chaang
Fermented alcoholic beverages have strong ritual importance among the various ethnic groups of people of the Sikkim Himalayas. The social activities in these regions require provision and consumption of appreciable amount of alcoholic beverages. Traditionally prepared alcoholic beverages are commonly served in main meals among the alcohol-drinker communities as a part of dietary culture. Jaanr/Chaang is a mild alcoholic and sweet-sour fermented cereal-based beverage. It is sipped from a bamboo receptacle using bamboo pipe. The receptacle which has millet in it is topped with warm water a couple of times until the millet loses its flavour. Chang can sometimes be strong and very intoxicating. Depending upon the substrates used, Jaanr/Chaang may be as follows:

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